Molecular Biology 312



Lecture Slides

Problem Sets



Goal: To further our understanding of the principles of molecular biology and gain an appreciation for how molecular techniques are being applied to every major field of biology including modern medicine.

Synopsis: Molecular biology is the study of molecules related to genes and gene products. This course is highly focused on DNA (structure, replication, repair, mutation, genomic organization) and functional aspects of select types of RNA and proteins. Pivotal experiments and primary science literature are emphasized as by evaluating real data, we can appreciate how understandings of gene regulation have come about. Along our journey, several main players in molecular biology are highlighted. A historical approach can illuminate how science is, and will continue to be, driven by creative people who have both the background and ability to ask interesting questions.

Lab: A project-based lab is associated with this course. Current molecular techniques are used in a series of mini-projects students help design. The collection of useful scientific data is emphasized. Recent projects have included targeted knockout of GFP in bacteria using zebrafish genes and phylogenetic 16S rRNA analysis to identify unknown bacteria from the Amazon. Depending on student interest and motivation, we generally explore a selection of special topics ranging from bioinformatics, genome projects, transgenic organisms, medical genetics, or forensics.

Instructor: Ana Zimmerman: Office hours: Tuesdays 3:30-4:30; and Wednesdays 11-12 (Science Center Room 216B). Also please feel free to stop by anytime or contact me by email:

Prior to the start of my adventure at the College of Charleston (Fall 2005), I had some great opportunities to be an active biologist around the country. B.S. Gonzaga University (Go ZAGS!); M.S. University of San Diego (1999); Ph.D. Washington State University (2003); Post-doctoral Scientist at MIT (2003-2005). To see a picture of me: holding a rainbow trout click here; doing educational outreach click here.

Required Text: Molecular Biology of the Gene, 6th edition, 2008. ISBN: 0-8053-9592-X.

Exams: Three lecture exams and comprehensive final (see syllabus for dates). Exams cover material from lectures, assigned readings and problem sets.

Problem Sets: The goals of assignments are to integrate course material with real life applications. Computer-based Bioinformatic resources will be stressed to understand how genome sequences can be accessed and utilized for a variety of applications including designing genetic tests to screen for a disease. To appreciate the promise of modern molecular biology it is helpful to have a working knowledge of molecular techniques and emerging genomic resources. Each assignment requires reading journal articles selected from the primary literature to formulate an understanding of the methodology, results and conclusions reported.

News and Noteworthy: Many of the topics covered in this course directly relate to areas of current emphasis including genetic engineering, cloning, transgenic crops for agriculture, forensic science, genome sequencing projects, preventive medicine, individual healthcare, gene therapies, and public health. These issues are routinely covered in the media and popular press. It is my hope you will find many instances during the semester to integrate material covered in class to issues covered elsewhere. If you encounter an interesting story that connects well to course material, please provide me with the source so this information can be shared with the rest of the class either in lecture or via a link on our class website.